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Ballet Talk for Dancers
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Bowlegged and Hyperextension

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Premier Danseur

I have bowlegs and slight hyperextension in my knees. When I stand in parallel I have abut two fingers of space between my knees. Although my legs hyperextend, I have tight hamstrings. I also have slightly overdeveloped quads from over correcting myself to not hyperextend my knees thus bending them. I have a lot of natural turnout. The challenge I've been having is the alignment of my knees and muscular tension.

 

For some time now I've been focusing on connecting my inner thighs, hamstring, and rotator muscles in such a way that my legs do not appear bowlegged. One pilates/ballet teacher had me connect my inner thighs and my rotators in parallel to bring my legs closer together instead of using my inner thighs to force the legs together while misaligning the knee. Then using the same concept and applying it in a turned out position.

 

I could see the benefits of doing this quickly. In ballet class my leg lines looked better, balances and pirouettes were better, my overdeveloped quads started to look leaner, and I felt less tight in the hamstrings. I started to improve very quickly but then I had hurt my knee on the bottom of the patella and had to take some time off. I'm getting back into ballet and trying to get back this concept I felt like I had grasped but I had a question about muscular tension.

 

How much is too much connection in the inner thigh and hamstrings? The amount this pilates teacher wants is to fully connect them and hold that for the rest of ballet class. It seems impossible, but I suppose a long adagio also seemed impossible at one point. It's hard for me to not feel tense when I'm putting so much focus on the legs. Is there any consequence to using your inner thighs and hamstrings to make the legs appear more straight when you are weight bearing as long as I'm using correct alignment from my ankle, knee, to hip?

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Clara 76

The most important thing is that we get your bones aligned- not necessarily for aesthetic reasons, but because alignment is of utmost importance in order for a dancer to have a long career and to be able to withstand the rigors of professional ballet.

 

What I suspect you need is some strengthening exercises to build back up to where you were prior to the patella issue, and a thorough analyzation of why the patella injury occurred.

 

The thing is, typically, overdeveloped quads are the result of falling back into the hyperextended/bowlegged position, which thrusts the rest of the body out of alignment and causes incorrect weight placement. The fix for this is not to bend the knees, but rather, to straighten the knees. You see, when in a hyperextended state the knees are past, or beyond straight. The solution is to locate, engage, and strengthen the muscles that support the bones.

 

This sticky might help:

http://dancers.invis...showtopic=35504

 

and this one:

http://dancers.invis...showtopic=44193

 

and this one:

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=53605

 

Beyond that, where you are placing your weight can factor into this as well, so make sure that you are not too far back in your heels- give it about 2/3 forefoot to 1/3 heel, and see if that helps.

 

Tension is bad- engaged muscles is good, so if those muscles are weaker because you haven't been dancing as much, and if you allow your body to fall back into bad posture habits when outside the classroom, it's going to take a bit of time to re-build! So watch that posture all the time- not just when your hand hits the barre!!!!

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